Suffolk MP had emergency brain operation to treat ‘disastrous’ infection

Therese Coffey has spoken out about the ordeal Picture: GREGG BROWN

Therese Coffey has spoken out about the ordeal Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament (

The MP for Suffolk Coastal has spoken out about her month-long stay in hospital after a nasty ear infection went “disastrously wrong”.

Therese Coffey, who is also a minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), described the “very unpleasant” ordeal in her column for today’s East Anglian Daily Times.

The 47-year-old underwent an emergency operation in May after an ear infection spread to the left side of her brain, confining her to hospital for almost a month.

After falling ill “very suddenly”, Dr Coffey went to see her GP, who prescribed her a spray to treat the ear infection.

However when things didn’t improve, she took herself to A&E on two separate occasions.

“Within 12 hours [of the second visit] I was being operated on,” she said.

“What happened is that an ear infection went disastrously wrong and instead of the infection being dealt with in a particular way it ended up on the side of my brain.

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“That led to an emergency operation once this was diagnosed and I was in hospital for nearly a month and then received aftercare at home for some time. It has been quite a journey.

“I have never had an ear infection before and I certainly never want one again.”

Dr Coffey also described how she lost part of her memory due to the infection, sometimes leaving her at a loss for words.

“It really affected my memory in ways that were quite extraordinary,” she said. “I started to lose words and things like that with the infection.”

On one occasion, when Dr Coffey’s sister came to visit her in the hospital, she said: “I have forgotten what these things on my feet are called” – pointing to her slippers.

She added that she wanted to thank the staff at both London and Ipswich hospitals for their support throughout the ordeal.

“I really want to thank not only the NHS staff who cared for me in London but also the staff from Ipswich Hospital and the community health group who actually taught me how to self-administer an intravenous injection,” she said.

“Not only was that reducing pressure on NHS nursing resources, it actually liberated me and I was able to share some of these experiences with health ministers. It was great treatment.”

The self-administration lessons allowed Dr Coffey to manage her own aftercare at home – something she found very useful.

Looking ahead, Dr Coffey said she was keen to enjoy a relaxing break over the festive season.

“I will never know the reason why I got that illness but I am really looking forward to this Christmas to be spending it with my family and friends,” she said.

“I want to wish all readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”